The timer is the brain of the washer. It controls everything in the cycle. In addition to telling the motor when and which way to run, it tells any clutch solenoids when to engage, the fill valve when to open, dispenser solenoids when to open, etc.
Most washers still have mechanical, that is, motor-operated timers. Some newer machines have digital timers and control (computer) boards.
Diagnosing digital machines is often a matter of reading the digital fault code or performing a self test. Testing procedures and fault codes for individual models can usually be found on a paper located inside the console.
A mechanical timer is nothing more than a motor that drives a set of cams which open and close switches. Yet it is one of the most expensive parts in your washer, so don’t be too quick to diagnose it as the problem. Usually the FIRST thing a layman looks at is the timer; it should be the LAST. And don’t forget that timers are electrical parts, which are usually non-returnable. If you buy one, and it turns out not to be the problem, you’ve just wasted the money.
In a wiring diagram, a mechanical timer may appear in two different ways (Figure G-11). The wiring and switches that are inside the timer will either be drawn with dark lines, or there will be a shaded or dotted line drawn around the timer’s internal wiring and switches.
Figure G-11: Typical Timer Schematic
If the timer is not advancing, well, that’s pretty obvious. Replace the timer or timer drive motor, or have it rebuilt as described below.
Timers can be difficult to diagnose. The easiest way is to go through everything else in the system that’s malfunctioning. If none of the other components are bad, then it may be the timer.
Remember that a timer is simply a set of on-off switches. The switches are turned off and on by a cam, which is driven by the timer motor. Timer wires are color-coded or number-coded.
Let’s say you’ve got a spin solenoid problem that you think you’ve traced to your timer. First unplug the machine. Look at your wiring diagram and see which internal timer switch feeds the spin solenoid. (See figure G-12) In this case, the pink colored wire and the red colored wire with a white stripe lead to switch #10 inside the timer. REMOVE those wires from the timer and touch the test leads to those terminals. Make sure the timer is in the “on” position and slowly turn the timer all the way through a full cycle. (On some timers, you cannot turn the dial while it is on. Whirlpool Direct Drive models (chapter 4) are this way.You must simply test the timer one click at a time. Be patient!)
You should see continuity make and break at least once in the cycle; usually many times. If it doesn’t, the internal contacts are bad; replace the timer.
Figure G-12: Testing Switches Inside the Timer
A special timer problem occurs only in machines with direct-reversing motors. The Whirlpool Direct-Drive models (Chapter 4) are prone to this confusing problem, though it’s not too terribly common. The symptoms are that when you open the lid at the end of the cycle, the tub hasn’t drained. You hear the motor running throughout the cycle, but it doesn’t spin or drain; you may also notice that you hear it agitating when it’s supposed to be spinning.
For the motor to reverse, the timer must interrupt power to it for a moment. When the timer gets worn, this simply doesn’t happen. The motor doesn’t get a chance to start in the opposite direction, so it continues to run in the same direction (agitate) until something interrupts the circuit and stops the motor. Like you, lifting the lid. You can see how the symptoms might appear to be intermittent and a bit confusing. The solution: replace the timer.
In general, timers cannot be rebuilt by the novice. Check with your parts dealer; if it can be rebuilt, he’ll get it done for you. If it’s a common one, your parts dealer may even have a rebuilt one in stock.
For the most part, if your timer is acting up, you need to replace it. To replace, mark the wires or note the color codes written on the timer. If you need to, you can draw a picture of the terminal arrangement and wire colors. If possible, change over the timer wires one-by-one; it can be easier. If there are any special wiring changes, they will be explained in instructions that come with the new timer.